My in-laws are obsessed–obsessed, I tell you–with the board game, Settlers of Catan (http://www.amazon.com/MayFair-Games-MFG3061-Settlers-Catan/dp/B000W7JWUA to see what it looks like, but seriously, go buy it from a local games store. Support local business!). When we were all together for Thanksgiving, they gathered around the dining table every night to play, and one game in particular lasted until the wee hours of the morning; I think my husband made it to bed somewhere around 3:00 a.m. that night. It’s a fantastic game, relying equally on luck and skill and charisma, and they absolutely love it.
If you’re not familiar with the game, one of the main parts of it, which is where the “charisma” part comes into play, is trading for resources you need so that you can accomplish various goals. For instance, you may find yourself with a sudden massive glut of sheep, when what you really need is some wood so you can start building roads around your fledgling empire (“It’s like 10,000 spoons when all you need is a knife”, as Alannis would say)…so you trade. “I’ve got sheep,” you say, “and am willing to give you EVERY SHEEP IN THE HISTORY OF SHEEPDOM for a bit of lumber, fer cryin’ out loud, any bit of lumber will do”. And then you get your lumber, and you build your roads, and you win the game and laugh at all your competitors and force them to kneel before Zod.
And I was thinking about Catan today, and thinking about trades, and thinking about the upcoming New Year, and it all kind of swirled together in my brain, and at the end of it, I think I may have found my Approach for 2012. It’s not a resolution, as such; but rather a way of looking at the world that I think–I hope–will help make 2012 a manageable and successful year for me.
The Though Exercise:
1. What do you really, truly want, to the point that you’re willing to make some sacrifices to get it?
2. What are you willing to sacrifice, in a permanent, once-it’s-gone-it’s-gone-for-good sort of way?
3. In other words, what trades are you prepared to make?
It’s not simply prioritizing; I can’t have it all, and I’m ok with that. There are a fixed number of hours in the day, and a fixed number of dollars in the budget (well, mostly fixed, but you know what I mean), and I can really only ask myself to do so much. So instead I want to look at life as a series of trades–what I’m willing to surrender, so that I can have something else instead.
I have all of this time in the evening, which I am currently using for critical pursuits such as watching Project Runway. I am willing to trade one of those hours–say, the one where I watch reruns of Friends for the 30th time–for an hour spent changing my body in a meaningful way. Maybe I’ll spend that hour exercising. Maybe I’ll spend it shopping for organic local food made from cows who get sung lullabies and wear little bonnets. Maybe I’ll spend it test-driving new hair colors. We’ll see; either way, that is a trade I am willing to make.
Here’s another one: I have, in the kitchen, a fantastically convenient flat surface which I am currently using to store soda, magazines, some junk mail, and the dogs’ flea prevention stuff. I am willing to trade that storage space–even though it means I have to find new storage space for these things, like, say, the coffee table–for the ability to use the flat surface for the purpose its name implies: the dining table. We’ve gotten in the habit of eating on the coffee table in front of the television, which is kind of hilarious when you think about it: we live in a split-level house, and the living room is downstairs from the kitchen. Plus, the coffee table is lower to the ground than the dining table, and we have two dogs and two cats. So it’s actually less convenient to eat there–full plates of food have to get hauled downstairs, and half the meal is spent shooing critters away and ignoring their plaintive looks–but doggone it, that’s where the tv is, and heaven forbid we might spend our mealtimes interacting with each other.
And one more for the road: I have a tendency to stand in my own way, to prevent myself from doing things because of all the what-ifs associated with them. I am willing to trade that for the opportunity to actually live life, instead of cowering here in a state of perpetual fear. I’m not entirely sure when I developed this habit, though I think it hit full bloom when I moved here to the big terrifying city; but the bottom line is that I leave this house, on average, once a week. Maybe twice. There are just so. many. people. out there, and the traffic is insane, and the roads make no damned sense, and as it turns out, I have no idea how to behave when I’m not surrounded by like-minded beautiful freaky people in a smallish college town. So I stay home. A lot. Because what if I leave the house and offend someone simply by my existence? And what if the car breaks down during the (god help me) 30-45 minutes it takes to get anywhere in this damnable pit? And and and…I could seriously go on like that all day, but the bottom line is that I get so wrapped up in trying to prevent possible disasters/embarrassment/injuries/etc that I just don’t do anything. But the truth of the matter is that I hate this town, I hate everything about this town, and y’know, if I offend some of the people here just by walking out my front door, then so be it. These are not the people whose approbation I want most anyway, and if I’m going to live in perpetual fear, it may as well be accompanied by the adrenaline rush of being afraid of something and doing it anyway. Something big. Like,y’know, driving all the way across town to go to the museum. Woohoo! Livin’ large, I tell ya.
So this year will be all about trades, I think. Trading fear for momentum, trading storage space for actual conversations with my husband, trading time for progress toward my long-term goals.
It’s just a matter of figuring out what I really, truly want…and what I’m willing to part with forever.